March 12, 2014

Chocolates, Confections and More: Sweet Surprises at Sarah’s Patisserie

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I’ve always had a sweet tooth. From a young age, I have baked and created desserts and pastries for my family and friends. My biggest dream is to someday own my own bakery, and I enjoy tasting products from different shops to inspire me for the future.

The bright lemon played off the floral notes of the lavender and highlighted the rich chocolate, which created a totally new taste. 

Sarah’s Patisserie is the place to find delicious pastries, confections and chocolates. Ever since I stumbled upon the new location on Seneca Street last semester, it has been an instant favorite of mine. The shop located on the busy block between the Starbucks and the Hilton Garden Inn in the Commons is open and spacious, decorated in dark chocolate and bright blue hues. Paintings line the walls, a mural of cocoa beans graces the wall behind the display case and small tables are available for customers to sit and indulge in an afternoon dessert and coffee. Immediately to the left of the entrance is a small room where all of the chocolate candies are hand crafted in house by Chef Tammy Travis. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, she has worked with “Mr. Chocolate” and master pastry chef, Jacques Torres. Chef Travis opened her first shop in Uptown Ithaca in 2004, and more recently, her downtown location May of last year.

I have had the pleasure of tasting a few of the delicious chocolates offered at Sarah’s. The employee informed me that the variety on the menu changes regularly, but there are some chocolates that are carried year-round. The flavors of chocolates in the store during my most recent visit included toffee, champagne, lemon thyme, key lime, raspberry wasabi, strawberry balsamic and peanut caramel extravaganza. The chocolates are crafted into different shapes through the use of fanciful molds; some are more conventional square. The candies are topped with elegant and colorful designs, sprinkled with hints of the flavors –ginger and sea salt, for example – infused into the chocolate. I felt like a kid in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory as I examined the delectable chocolate gems through the display case.

The best flavor I sampled was the lemon lavender dark chocolate. The bright lemon played off the floral notes of the lavender and highlighted the rich chocolate, which created a totally new taste. As I sampled Sarah’s chocolates, I couldn’t help noticing the quality and freshness of the ingredients. The flavors are natural and never overpower the palate. Keep in mind, however, that these chocolates are somewhat of a luxury, priced at $2 or $2.50 apiece, and as I’ve found it difficult to eat just one, I would recommend splurging on these fancy treats for a celebratory occasion.

Besides chocolate, there are many other desserts for customers to savor in. On a second visit, I tried the macaroons. I decidedto have the hazelnut vanilla, passion fruit and Key Lime flavored macaroons. The texture was crisp and chewy, and the flavors were clean and distinct. My favorite macaroon was the hazelnut vanilla with its toasty, nutty flavor. For more adventurous palates, Sarah’s offers a Mango Chipotle Lime and Coconut Curry Macaroon that combine sweet and spicy into one treat. Priced at $1.50 apiece, it is hard to resist these crunchy cookies.

In addition to macaroons, the shop features many desserts. Small cakes and tortes were displayed in the glass case in varieties such as opera crème and hazelnut cinnamon fandango. The patisserie also offers larger versions of these cakes and tortes in additional flavors– raspberry chiffon, vanilla orange truffle, and the Sixth Avenue, which combines the tastes of chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, and crème brulee. On their website, beautiful photographs of Chef Tammy’s wedding cakes show the wide range of decorations she crafts with intricate piping work, the use of fresh flowers, chocolate and fondant.

For everyday sweet cravings, Sarah’s also has brownies, shortbread and variety of cookies, scones, cinnamon rolls and French breakfast pastries. For the chocolate lover or the foodie in search of a special sweet treat, Sarah’s Patisserie provides high quality and delicious desserts and confections.

Andy Johnson / Sun Staff Photographer

Andy Johnson / Sun Staff Photographer

Andy Johnson / Sun Staff Photographer

Andy Johnson / Sun Staff Photographer

Andy Johnson / Sun Staff Photographer